Tuesday, July 31, 2007

First Birder Blogger Conference

It's not too early to start planning for a fall birding trip and we'd like to invite all you bird loving bloggers out there to join a growing group of us for the First Birder Blogger Conference at the CAPE MAY AUTUMN WEEKEND. It's the last weekend in October- October 26, 27, 28, 2007. Sharon the Birdchick is coordinating the bloggers and Cape May has arranged a discount for the festival for bloggers who meet these guidelines:

Your blog must have been started sometime before January 31, 2007

Your blog must have regular updates at a minimum of four times a month.

If your blog has been inactive for more than 30 days, you will not qualify for the discount.

You must promote the Cape May Autumn Weekend and the First Birder Blogger Conference periodically in your blog and invite readers and bloggers to come along.

If you can work it out to attend, send your name, address and phone number to Birdchick and she'll put you on the list. (There might even be hotel discounts!) Let one of us know too and we'll add your link to the "Flock" on our side bars.

So COME ON readers and bloggers! Join the "Flock" !!

You know you want to!

For more info go to www.birdcapemay.org

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mostly Insects at Hasty Brook

A while back, Amy Hooper, editor of WildBird Magazine and blogger of WildBird on the Fly was kind enough to send me a copy of Kenn Kaufman's Field Guide to Insects of North America. I had entered a drawing asking for questions for the editor. This is such a fun field guide and it was used constantly Saturday and Sunday when we went up to Hasty Brook. It was passed from person to person- even the kids had a go with it! It's not loaded with lots of technical jargon and is sprinkled with bits of humor. This is a terrific family field guide.
We found this tattered White Admiral fluttering around a birch on the edge of our campsite. She was there the entire weekend moving mostly around the trunk. At first I thought it was eating around the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker holes, but really it looked like it was licking the lichen on the trunk. Eating? I've no clue. Any butterfly people out there have an idea?
This pretty moth was on the camper under the canopy in the morning. We couldn't find it in the book and I don't have a moth id book. It was perfectly white, no dots or streaks. Anyone want to try the id?

Another cool moth under the canopy. Looking closely it looked like a drawing on a brown paper grocery bag. It was 2 1/2 to maybe 3 inches across. When it eventually flew away it fluttered like a dried leaf on the wind- very erratic. Amazing!

The thistles were humming with bees. This bumblebee was calm and content to let me get in close to watch and take pictures.

Moments later this honeybee (at least I think it's a honeybee...where's the Birdchick when I need her!) flew in an quickly chased the bumblebee away.

Here's a really crummy picture of a neat red and white striped spider that would vibrate whenever I got close enough to grab a picture. Since it was quite hot, there were plenty of sweat bees hanging around us. They're kind of cute, and seem harmless if not pesty. But there's something about being licked by an insect...

And no, that is NOT my dirty, hairy, sweaty arm.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bad Bunny!

"No- no! Bad bunny!"

"WHAT? I didn't eat the window screen! And those bits of the green bath mat- I didn't bite them off. And I certainly didn't chew the cable for the satellite TV. Nope. Don't look at me."
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Monday, July 23, 2007

It's Been a Year?

I just can't believe it's been one year since I wrote my first blog post. Thank you to the bloggers that I read for welcoming me to this community. The more I read about your passions, the more I want to learn. Thank you to those of you who visit and comment here. You've enriched my life more than you'll know. You are good people.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dippy Goldfinch!

WARNING: Dial-up users, I'm sorry. I simply could not leave any of these pictures out. Yesterday afternoon I spotted this goldfinch hanging in my yellow daisy patch. At first I thought that maybe he was injured or ill because he was hanging upside down by his feet. Eventually he started preening and I think perhaps he had just had a bath and was drying off. It was the prettiest thing to watch.

Doesn't he look a bit like an Easter Peeps when he's all fluffed up like this?

He pulled each of his shiny wing feathers through his beak, one at a time.

He fluffed out, tipped his head back, opened his beak and hung upside down like this for several seconds.
Preen some more, missed a spot.

Back to the hanging birdie pose.

Oh yes, he likes butter. (Who remembers that childhood game with dandelions?)

Well, if you've hung with me, I will say that I narrowed this post down from 24 pictures of this guy!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cedars at Gooseberry Falls

Another of our stops along the north shore of Lake Superior was the lovely and very popular Gooseberry Falls State Park. My friendship with Pam at Nature Woman has taught me to have a greater appreciation for trees. So amongst the beauty of the park I found my eyes drawn to these old cedar trees.

I wonder why this one has twisted over time.

These old cedars are growing right out of the rock overlooking the falls.

Look at how the roots cling to the rock surface. They remind me of old soldiers guarding the falls. I wish I had a fraction of their strength and tenacity.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The North Shore of Lake Superior

During our long weekend at Hasty Brook we took Aranka and the kids to Duluth and along up the north shore of Lake Superior. Minnesota is known as the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes' but to me Lake Superior is magical. Regular readers here might know that I love rocks and there are rocks-a-plenty along the north shore. This stop is the Twin Points public access and the beach was all small, smooth skippers. Johnny is the king of rock skipping and he spent the entire hour here skipping these beauties into the lake. I can't get enough of running my fingers over the smooth warm rocks. Of course I brought a few home! Rock picking for Lake Superior Agates is a popular hobby for locals and visitors alike. I found a few small ones.

I was told this is an old fishing shack used to process fish brought into this little harbor. It is such a pretty spot.

The view to the north shows the endless water, the horizon curving, hiding land on the other side.

The lake was calm and peaceful this day. Wisconsin is on the other side.

My kids, Molly, John and my German daughter Aranka. Aranka had just dipped her feet into the lake. She was shocked at how cold the water was even in this shallow, sheltered harbor. The temperatures of Lake Superior rarely rise above 50 degrees in the summer.
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Friday, July 06, 2007

I Met a Blogger Today

I got an email last night that made me squeal! Deb from Sand Creek Almanac was going to be in my neighborhood this morning and she invited me to meet for coffee. Deb's blog is one of the first that I ever commented on when I started a year ago. She's a fellow Minnesotan and she lives "up north" not too far from Hasty Brook. Through blogging and commenting on each other's blogs we found we had a bit in common. She grew up not far from where I live now, and when my folks retired they lived not far from where she lives now. I was thrilled when Deb invited me to join her on a birding trip on Lake Superior this spring. I was so looking foreward to meeting her (and doing some birding!) but sadly the trip was cancelled at the last minute. I met Deb this morning at a local Caribou and we chatted for an hour and a half. We talked about birds, blogging, kids, jobs, families and more. It was like meeting an old friend! I'll admit to being a little anxious beforehand but it disappeared in a blink because I felt instantly like I'd connected with a real friend. Even though we bloggers don't share all of the details of our every day lives, I think we do reveal enough about ourselves to show the kind of people we are. Deb is so genuine, smart, funny and very kind. She works hard to have the life she believes in and I admire her greatly. Thanks for the invite Deb. Next time lets do some birding too!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Eight Random Facts Meme

Birdchick tagged me for this Eight Random Facts Meme. I'm not sure if I've done it before so pardon me if my Eight Random Facts sound familiar!

Here are the rules for Eight Random Facts:
Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I don't like monkeys. They are sneaky and cunning. And they fling poo.

2. In the tenth grade while working at Woolworth's I sold a bag of circus peanuts to Marlo Thomas.

3. I can't swim.

4. I love cotton. (The look, the feel of cotton- the fabric of our lives)

5. I speak fluent Double Dutch.

6. I am the youngest of five and there are 15 years between me and my oldest brother.

7. I am allergic to cashews.

8. I love musicals. When I was a kid I thought the world would be perfect if we could just break into song and dance at any time. Still do.

Here are the folks I tag:

1. Mary at Mary's View
2. Jayne at Journey Through Grace
3. Ruthie at Nature Knitter
4. Larry at The Brownstone Birder
5. Pam at Nature Woman
6. Mary at Mary's Corner of the World
7.Linda at Erie's Argonaut
8. Nina at Nature Remains

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The View From My Chair

Welcome to my chair. It's a cool new chair just for Hasty Brook. Not an ordinary chair, but a heavy duty, zero gravity recliner with cup holder and built-in comfy headrest. Blue.

I'd show a picture of my new chair, but then I'd have to get up.

In case you're wondering, the cup holder is holding a big plastic glass (20 oz) from Wall Drug SD. The glass is full of ice, Malibu Rum and orange juice. It fits the cup holder quite nicely.

Happy Independence Day everyone!!
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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Wild Things

Our long weekend at Hasty Brook was nothing short of perfection. Honestly, the weather could not have been nicer, daytime highs around 70 degrees, sunny and breezy and nighttime lows in the 40's. That might sound cold but it was perfect for bonfires and sleeping in the camper under piles of blankets. We did so much and took so many pictures I have to break it down into several posts starting with this one about the wild things we saw.

Check out this river otter that we saw at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. I'll bet you didn't know that Minnesota river otters wore skateboard caps! (John was NOT happy to be posing for me) The Great Lakes Aquarium houses interesting displays of fresh-water fish from Lake Superior and around the world. Fresh-water fish aren't overly colorful but still pretty cool. They have a two story tank that has sturgeon that must be 6 feet long! They did have a few birds in the aquarium. One display had a pair of Common Goldeneyes that were a hoot to watch. I did learn something new- when the Goldeneye swam on the surface the feet paddled below the bird as I expected, but when the bird dove, the legs pivoted out to the sides like the pectoral fins on a fish! I had no idea!!

Our first evening up there this little black dog trotted up the driveway. We later found out his name is Spike and he belongs to the neighbors (about a half mile away). He's a very friendly and funny little dog and all weekend long he hung about, not begging for food (although he's terribly thin), but just socializing! Molly loves this dog and the feelings were mutual.

We spied this spider on the rocks along the north shore of Lake Superior. It was easily the size of a ping pong ball. (((shudder))) The mosquitoes were not bad as the days were breezy and the nights were so cool. The tick numbers seemed to be tapering off. They were mostly wood ticks but we did find a few deer ticks too. Tick checks were a must.

There were deer EVERYWHERE!! We quickly lost track of the number of deer that we saw. There were several does with little spotted babies. I was sooo excited to see a live badger in the wild along the road one day. I'd never seen a badger in the wild before.

On to birds. Here's an evening silhouette of one of the phoebes that sang and hunted along the creek. The singing veeries were all around us in the evenings. I had to listen carefully to hear the hermit thrushes down along the creek because the veeries were so loud. Chestnut-sided warblers were in the hazelnut thickets. I spent a good part of one afternoon watching the females gather insects while the males sang and sang. Black and white warblers spent their time creeping up and down the spruce trunks. Ovenbirds were creeping along in the tall grass and every afternoon a group of Cedar Waxwings flew in to feast on the ripe serviceberries. The most seen birds at Hasty Brook were Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. They seemed to be everywhere. A pair of Indigo Buntings worked through the tree tops one afternoon and a new bird for my Hasty Brook list- a Scarlet Tanager!
But you know I've saved the best for last
The Brilliant Giant Red-Tailed Chicken!!
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